|Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley Shipwrecked, |
ink on paper, 59x42cm
"I notice a lot of gifted people shipwreck ... the whole notion of having a gift – there is this requirement in it to test it, to ride close to the edge. It seems part and parcel of the very notion of a gift to – to – to rebel against it. And to see whether it is really real. Because it can be very easily dissipated or damaged. Or, ultimately, destroyed. And I’ve had an immense problem with it. Because I don’t really want to spend a lot of time discussing the notion of the disease of addiction, but all my heroes have been addicts and I am an addict, and for the rest of my life, I will struggle against the embracing of the mysterious self-destructive self-murder, the urge to deny, defy, wreck, ruin, challenge, one’s gift."
[Brett Whiteley from transcript of 1989 video clip Difficult Pleasure: A Portrait of Brett Whiteley ... listen to Brett talk about his gift @ Australian Screen HERE]
I tried to delve a little deeper to let this image float into consciousness, to move further away from naturalistic likenesses into suggestive, ambiguous imagery:
... the drowned sailor washed ashore with his hair matted in the strand kelp,
... Ozymandias' head half buried in the desert sands:
"Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair." [Shelley]
A favourite piece of music he would listen to in his studio, as he painted on the way to shipwreck, was Tom Waits's Shiver Me Timbers .
I'm leavin' my fam'ly
Leavin' all my friends
My body's at home
But my heart's in the wind
Where the clouds are like headlines
On a new front page sky
My tears are salt water
And the moon's full and high.
You can listen to it here on this Youtube clip.
|Brett Whiteley Shipwrecked (detail)|